Updating Dell hosts – when I don’t have the cool tool!

I have written before how much I like the Dell OpenManage Integration for VMware vCenter tool.  You can find my articles on it via this tag. In my past life at DataGravity, and before it at VMware, I used it to keep all my Dell firmware current.  It was easy and simple, and even used maintenance mode to do it.  So now, in my own lab, with three Dell R710 hosts I need to update – and no cool tool I am not sure what to do.

With some GoogleFu I learned the answer was the Dell Repository Manager, and creating an ISO.  There is so much necessary but not in that sentence it is very good I found this most excellent article.  This made things much easier, especially in my head, and a little in my lab.  But the problems started shortly after I thought everything was going to be OK.  It turns out that for two of my R710’s they would only boot to the DVD I built if they were cold booted.  That is odd and took a few minutes (!) to figure out.  BTW, CD’s would boot cold or warm.  For the third R710 it would not boot a DVD.  No matter how hard I cussed.  I even tried an external DVD drive – in fact two different ones with no luck.  But, I found this article about how you could take the ISO you made from the Repository Manager and put it on USB.  That worked well, and behaved like the DVD (when the DVD was working that is).  BTW, I used the Mac version of the ISO tool, not the Windows one but it works and the process is the same.

I should mention that whether it be DVD or the USB, which I guess makes sense as they come from the same source – I had to restart three times due to dependent files messages.  After the third time, I just gave up.

There is not good reporting so make sure you know some versions before you start.  So System, Life Cycle, iDRAC are some good examples.

I don’t think anyone outside of a lab should do this sort of thing.  The Dell OpenManage Integration for vCenter tool is not that expensive – I just checked and it is 420.75 US$ for 5 servers with 3 years subscription.  I wonder if a traditional OpenManage setup would support better reporting?  I tried to use the SUU tool but with no booting from DVD at first that was a problem and I got distracted and use the ISO (and USB) instead.

BTW, if you want to update your USB with newer Dell bits you can check out this article. That ISO building tool is pretty cool and can even make Live Linux CD’s for you.


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